A look at the recently approved clubs of the 2021-2022 academic year

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After earning approval last school year, numerous new clubs have been running this year, including the Bollywood Dance Team, Chinese Culture Club, Pacific Islander Club, and the International Relations & Linguistics Club. In addition to the new extracurricular options, the administration has reinstated Girl Up, a former club that was discontinued up until now. 

The Bollywood Dance Team focuses on regional dances from South Asia. Club leader and senior Sai Choudari said that some aspects of the club include a “virtual or an in-person competition among the various Bollywood dance teams throughout NYC high schools.” She added, “Our club seeks to build teamwork and community among the student body. Due to COVID, we know that underclassmen and upperclassmen didn’t get a chance to get to know each other. We want to try to bridge that gap and build lasting friendships, as that’s a key aspect of dance.” 

With a goal to help Chinese Harrisites connect with their roots or for others to understand more about Chinese culture, the Chinese Culture Club (CCC) allows its members to dive into a multitude of topics regarding Chinese culture, including history, music, traditions, language, and cuisine. The CCC board expressed that they “hope to establish a haven for Harrisites seeking to reconnect with their ethnic identities, broaden their cultural horizons, or simply make friends during difficult times.” They also hope that the club will allow students to “develop a greater capacity for tolerance and respect for other cultures.” They said that they play games before every meeting because they hold true to the fact that learning and fun go hand in hand.

The Pacific Islander Club also hopes to teach their peers about their culture by focusing on different aspects of the culture such as geography, language, and food. Junior Devin Wu, president of the Pacific Islander Club, expressed that the purpose of the club is to bring awareness to an underrepresented group and to erase assumptions and stereotypes regarding such a culture. He expressed that the club is a very chill, relaxed space catered toward making the learning experience fun while establishing a “close-knit community.”

Similarly, a member of the Pacific Islander Club, junior Piyas Baidya, said that the club provides an opportunity to learn about the Pacific Islander culture with others who match his enthusiasm, since school doesn’t often give much attention to it. He said, “Although [the members] have different interests, the certain time that we all are in the club allows for us to come together and appreciate the pacific islands.”

The International Relations & Linguistics Club (IRL) gives an opportunity for Harrisites to explore linguistics and communication. Senior Eliza Josephson, president of the IRL, said, “Our school has such a diversity of interests, and I think many students express and share their own through the option to form a club.” She said that she started IRL as a way to learn about “political sciences, history, diplomacy, foreign cultures, human rights activism, and/or current events.” Not only do club participants learn about linguistics, but Eliza said that they also spend time preparing for linguistics competitions, including the The North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO), which tend to be one of the more unnoticed linguistics events.

IRL club advisor and history teacher Frank McCaughey said that during meetings, members often do practice questions from linguistics competitions: “These questions can be quite challenging, so [when we encountered them for] the first time, we completed one as a group. It was quite an accomplishment.” He added that the IRL is “unlike anything [he’s] done before. Having no previous experience with linguistics, everything has been a learning experience.”

Lastly, Girl Up Club strives to teach students about a movement. Senior Isabella Sam, president of Girl Up, explained that the club “is [part of] a global movement that focuses on gender-based issues, feminism, and how we can all contribute to the cause. The Girl Up Club at THHS serves as a space for all members to learn more about gender-based issues, and how to get involved and make a difference… In addition, we hope to work with the guidance department to find internships, community service opportunities, and scholarships open exclusively to women and anyone along the non-binary spectrum.” Isabella added.

Girl Up manages to tackle important topics in a safe and comfortable environment devoid of judgement. Girl Up member and sophomore Diana Rivera, said, “I like how everyone in the club is chill and able to have a serious conversation without being scared to say the wrong thing. They put their thoughts out and also help me upgrade my own views. I find the atmosphere of the club enjoyable.”

“Going to Girl Up club is probably a highlight of my Mondays, especially since I am like half asleep all throughout the day. Everyone in Girl Up radiates such amazing energy and I enjoy just having their company,” said freshman Jasmyn Pillay.

Photo courtesy of Juney Liu